Monday, January 30, 2012

january's guest blogger!

i am so happy to announce that starting this month, a lil' expression will be featuring a creative guest blogger every month! to kick off the new tradition, kim o'brien will be telling us about her lovely craft & what inspires her. enjoy!
I'd like to think of my jewelry as timeless. To me it is a lot like iron work in that it is lasting and (hopefully) always in style. It seems to be a stretch to say that I am influenced by two things that seem so diametrically opposed, but my other inspiration is nature. To me they fit together, iron work is a gate to a garden, a wall to a grassy yard, its rungs create a window to peer at flowers through. They compliment and contrast each other at the same time. One stands through all of the seasons, while the other falls to seed to bloom later. 

In my iron work series, I add texture to mimic a weathered gate and add abstract flowers to some pieces, bringing my two muses together. My textures are created in various ways. Some are painstaking, made by drawing line after line with a scribe. While other textures I create by using an old dinged up hammer whose surface mars silver to perfection. My dot series are just simple gestures of color used to capture parts of seasons that I enjoy. My favorite of the autumn colors is goldenrod, I love seeing those tall weeds pop up in the fall. 



What I love most about being a jeweler is the making. Using tools, playing with fire and getting good and dirty. I've given up on having nice nails as I spend most of my days sanding them away while I clean up my creations. Now that I am making full time I am pleased to say I get to work in pink combat boots and jeans every day and I love it! What I don't love (and what we speak of so little) is that it is hard. I don't get to just make jewelry. I have to package it, gets stores to carry it, price it, sell it, promote it. It is tough work and work that one can only do out of love. If you are thinking of turning your hobby into a full time gig you need to consider a few things. First, price your work to sell at wholesale or you will never make a living. The next important thing is you must love what you make so much that you are ready to live your life around it. Then, get ready not to have a steady paycheck for a long time. I've been at this full time only a year and I am still working out the kinks. It is tough and done out of love. 

When I am in a creative rut, I grab my camera and adorable dog and set out for a walk. We go to new neighborhoods, sample the coffee and croissants there. While we are strolling the area I take pictures, lots of them. I look for colors, textures, patterns, flowers, gates, designs and capture it all. At night I sit down and take it all in. Seeing what I like about each photo, looking for colors or gestures to create in metal. I do rough sketches of my ideas. Some sketches stay around for years and others are made into metal immediately. My other source of inspiration is looking at works of other artists and jewelers, especially from the Art Nouveau movement. Art Nouveau seems to capture the style I am ultimately aiming for. Bright patterns, flowers, lines and gestures are brought together to create amazing images. Ultimately my goal is to make limited series of work so I can show in galleries and move slowly away from the craft fair hustle and bustle. Oh, and my other goal is to stay in my pink boots and jeans. Even with all of the heartache, I don't want to give up making jewelry. In fact, it is something I need to do. 

want to know more about kim? see her jewelry & learn more about her!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

christmas surprise!

remember my after-christmas post where i mentioned that i surprised my mom with a super duper special gift? well... that super duper surprise gift involves the both of us & it's happening this week!

wonder what it is?

1st clue: horsies!

2nd clue: snow!

3rd clue: plane!

any guesses on what it could be?

a trip to denver!

well, okay - the horses were a stretch... but i definitely couldn't put broncos! or mountains. that would have been too easy. either way, she was very surprised & excited. neither of us has ever been to denver, so we're curious to see what it's like. we're really lucky, because this week the temperature will be warmer [and sunnier] than chicago!

ever been to denver? we would love some recommendations of where to go & what to see!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

jumpin' jehosacats!

the past couple weeks have been so busy and hectic in this household... i feel like i haven't done  ANYthing - especially play with our kittens. they normally are fine with playing by themselves or with each other, but lately it's like they've gotten so bored that they can't stop bothering us! so yesterday i picked them up a fun, little feather toy.

these pictures crack me up - i couldn't just keep them to myself. it's like they're super kitties!



Monday, January 23, 2012

music monday.


i have a horrible, horrible knack for creating [or hoarding] paperwork. i receive so many different bills, invoices, and contracts that i always just put them in one spot. which turns into a pile. and then that pile normally gets dumped into a laundry basket with a ton of other miscellaneous items, where it stays until the day i have the motivation to go through it.

well, tonight was the night i finally found the motivation to go through it.

i put on mae's three newest albums [cleverly named [m]orning, [a]fternoon, [e]vening] and began chuggin' along. listening to the albums in sequence is amazing, because they build momentum - creating concentration in the beginning and energy at the end. the songs made me feel really creative, too. i was able to organize what i have into individual folders and get rid of the excess things i didn't need. i was even able to find a new place for all the business cards i've collected over the past year! at the end of the [e]vening album, i felt so accomplished & relaxed.

mae isn't for everyone - but i urge you to check them out. you might be surprised! :]

what kind of music motivates you?

Friday, January 20, 2012

recap friday.

happy friday, lovelies! here are some pictures from the past week.




1. a. and i took a late night stroll to the beach to take some pictures.

2. i spy with my little eye, a lil' white kitty :]

3. game night. ukulele! not very many points, but one helluva word.

4. i'm blonde now :]

5. finn loves the camera.

6. one of my many purty owlies.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

what inspires your personal style?


when i think of my 'personal style', a lot of words come to mind. trendy. neutral. classic. however, lately i have found myself in a style rut. i feel like all i wear is yoga pants [uhh i'm wearing them to work everyday, not to yoga] and long sweaters or cardigans. what's worse is that i am living in a freezing midwestern state at the moment, so i feel like i always have to throw on the same things just to stay warm.

i would love my style to be more bohemian and retro - with more color, patterns & vintage.
i would love to nix all jeans and wear all dresses.

but how?

i'm here to ask for your opinions & your help. where do you find inspiration for your style? and more importantly, how do you show off your creative personal style, while still dressing for the weather?

Sunday, January 15, 2012


welcome to the new & improved a lil' expression!

you are now visiting me via blogspot, instead of wordpress*. i struggled with this decision for a while, but in my research, i found that blogspot is a bit more user friendly and design friendly. i was very lucky that i was able to convert one blog to another, so that i didn't lose any previous posts. now we can pick up where we left off!

i would love if you could subscribe/follow this new blog, so you won't miss any posts!

thanks so much, everyone! i am looking forward to this new home :]

*please be aware that some of the site may be a little wonky - there are still some little details that i need to fix.

Friday, January 6, 2012

recap friday.

this week hasn't been as productive or exciting as i had thought it was going to be. why? 
because i have been extremely sick since tuesday. i haven't done much all week, except lay on the couch, watch movies & take medicine. it's lucky that i'm participating in some 'photo of the day' fun-ness on instagram, or else i wouldn't have any pictures to recap!


1. 'what you wore' - since i didn't want to take a picture of me in my sicky clothes, i chose to take a picture of my beloved lotion. i wear it every day b/c it smells like heaven. [yes, i know it says foot cream -  i use it on my hands too!]

2. 'what makes you smile' - owlies, duh!

3. 'what you adore' - i adore this man because he took the day off to take care of me. he's so good.

4. our nye outfits!

5. 'a picture of you' - after our nye festivities.

6. 'a letterbox' - there was no way i was leaving my couch to get a picture of my mailbox, so i got a picture of the letter tray in our office, instead :]

have a good weekend, everyone!

Monday, January 2, 2012

music monday!

today was a long, long day at work. my lunch break made me super sleepy & i just couldn't shake my irritability with some of the customers.

but on my drive home, i heard band of skulls' new song 'sweet sour'. so good. i cranked up the volume and all my frustrations instantly melted away. don't you love when that happens?

hope you enjoy this song as much as i did!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

looking forward.

although this is only the first day of 2012, i already have so much planned and so much to do! for the past couple weeks or so, i have been jotting down goals and ideas for the coming year - in both my personal and professional life. i have come up with three major intentions, with many different little goals umbrella-d underneath them.

1. commit.

for the past two years, i have had the most horrible tendency of making plans and then flaking out on them or forgetting about them. this year, i resolve to commit more to the plans and obligations i make. that means committing more to my photography by spending more time with marketing, equipment, classes, etc. i want to learn as much as i can, so i become a better photographer in the long run. i also want to commit more time to a healthy lifestyle... eating organically and better, becoming more active, getting checkups, etc. i don't drink much anymore, so thankfully i don't have to cut that out of my life - but i could do without some of the sweets ;]

2. network.

although i have met a number of wonderful people in the area that have helped me out tremendously, i hope to network with many more in the upcoming year. i want to reach out to other business owners and bloggers who could provide me with advice and recommendations - and maybe a guest post swap. i would like to find a mentor. i want to go to more local meetings, take photography classes & blogging e-courses, and get coffee with new networking pals. basically, i just want to make as many contacts as possible. word of mouth is the best marketing tool.

3. create.

not only do i want to create more amazing photographs for my clients and my portfolio, but i also want to create more in my life as a whole. this year, i plan on creating a website and an etsy shop for t.bell photography [exciting!]. i really enjoy refurbishing and diy-ing, so i would like to do more of that in the upcoming year. i also want to create more amazing memories for my clients, my friends/family and for a. & i. lastly, it would be great if i could event plan a bit more this year, as well. i have two girlfriends who just got engaged, so maybe they'll need my help? hint hint ;]

in addition to putting together goals, i have been perusing the internet to see how some of my fellow bloggers plan for their year. my friend jess from jess LC & make under your life has an annual tradition to ring in the new year - to write future letters to yourself stating what you would like to accomplish in the coming year. in the letter, jess includes not only her professional aspirations, but also her personal ones. the best part about her annual letters? 83% of the statements she has made in her letters... have come true! lolalina [an amazing creative blog] took jess' idea & adapted it into printables that you can actually fill out and keep for yourself. they're brilliant & beautiful! i filled mine out last night :]

i know it seems like a lot of thought to put into a new year, but i feel like it will pay off in the end - as long as i stick with it. so, ladies & gents... could you help me stick with it? maybe i could do a monthly check-in post or something to ensure that i am thinking about and working towards the goals i have put into place. any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

here's to 2012! i think it's going to be great :]
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